Finalists announced for 2021 HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards
Ten early childhood educators and services have been announced as finalists in the 2021 HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards.
New South Wales was the stand out state in terms of nominations, with educators and services being recognised for achievements including an innovative sustainability education program, outstanding learning support for children in a rural community with disabilities, and the creation of a culturally safe learning space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.
All finalists were commended for their outstanding leadership and commitment to creating inclusive learning environments for children during difficult times, with HESTA CEO Debby Blakey acknowledging the role the global pandemic has played in supporting Australians to recognise the critical role of the early childhood education sector.
Ms Blakey extended her congratulations to all nominees and finalists for their continued dedication, adding that HESTA “is privileged to help share their stories and recognise their important work”.
The 2021 finalists are as follows:
Advancing Pedagogy And Practice
Lilyfield Early Learning Centre – Lilyfield NSW
Lilyfield Early Learning Centre is recognised for its community-focused learning approach that empowers children to have a voice and choice, particularly through an innovative junior Parliament that sees children discuss social issues and be involved in decision making.
KU West Pymble Preschool – West Pymble NSW
KU West Pymble Preschool is recognised for its efforts to incorporate sustainability into its pedagogy and practice, supporting learning outcomes and contributing to its vision for a better, healthier world. The project has inspired children to initiate actions regarding recycling, waste and water management.
KU Isobel Pulsford Memorial Preschool – Epping NSW
The KU Isobel Pulsford Memorial Preschool Team is recognised for embracing a culture of inquiry and creating a space for the community to thrive. As a result, many families are embracing a more inquisitive early learning approach, with the child celebrated as co-researcher, co-constructor and a key companion in the learning and teaching experience.
Karen Roberts, City of Canterbury Bankstown – Canterbury-Bankstown NSW
Karen Roberts is recognised for her outstanding contribution to early childhood education, continually going above and beyond to be a champion of children and a leading voice in the sector. She designed an initiative enabling parents from asylum seeker backgrounds to realise their work or study dreams by having their children placed in reduced or no-cost childcare centres.
Michelle Gujer – Gowrie Victoria, Broadmeadows VIC
Michelle is recognised for her work over the past 30 years to develop early childhood educators through supportive leadership, mentoring, and shared decision-making to lead change and enrich team development. Under her leadership, Gowrie Broadmeadows was awarded an ‘excellent’ rating from the Australian Early Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority – one of only five such services in Victoria.
Jackie Staudinger – KU Children’s Services, Macquarie Fields NSW
Jackie is recognised for the astute and dedicated leadership of her team at KU Macquarie Fields Preschool, supporting educators to create a thriving learning community. Under her leadership, the preschool has launched healthy eating initiatives and supported families to manage children’s challenging behaviours.
Natalie Cordukes – Paddington Children’s Centre (Uniting), Paddington NSW
Natalie is recognised for her strong leadership on reconciliation at Paddington Children’s Centre, which resulted in strong partnerships with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the creation of a new culturally safe learning space for Aboriginal children and families.
Jumbunna Community Preschool and Early Intervention Centre is recognised for its incredible dedication to supporting children with disability and special learning needs in its local community in rural New South Wales. The centre builds a transdisciplinary team around the child, supporting families with much-needed services to help their child thrive.
Forbes Preschool – Forbes NSW
Forbes Preschool is recognised for its commitment to ensuring all three to five-year-olds in the community can access quality, affordable early childhood education, particularly through increasing participation rates of children from Aboriginal families and families experiencing disadvantage.
Winanga-Li Aboriginal Child and Family Centre – Gunnedah NSW
Winanga-Li Aboriginal Child and Family Centre is recognised for its dedication to meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and families experiencing disadvantage across the Gunnedah region, providing a range of programs including out-of-home care, a Gamilaraay language program, and the Learning for Life speech program.
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